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July 27, 2016 / 21 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘blessing’

For 72 Hours Only from Kupat Ha’ir: Receive a Special Blessing from the Gadol Hatorah on Shavuos

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

[COMMUNICATED]

CLICK HERE TO ADD YOUR NAME!

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, the distinguished Torah scholar, has recently promised to give a special “Me Shebeirach” blessing, when he is called up to the Torah on Shavuos morning, to all those who give to Kupat Ha’ir. This great charity will go directly to assist needy families of Torah scholars.

With Shavuos almost upon us, there are many families who do not have enough funds to celebrate even a modest Yom Tov. They have turned to Kupat Ha’ir, under the auspices of Rav Kanievsky, shlit”a, as their last resort. Please, help them be able to enjoy the special Yom Tov of Shavuos, as is appropriate for the family of a Torah scholar.

Every dollar you give will be matched!

However, this appeal will last for 72 hours only! During these three special days, when we prepare ourselves to receive the Torah again, giving to this charity has special meaning and extraordinary effect. So please donate to a fund that is dedicated to families of Torah scholars at a time when it is particularly appropriate to support the Torah.

CLICK HERE TO ADD YOUR NAME!

Apart from the tremendous merit to help the families of the Torah celebrate the joy of Shavuos, donors also will have their names read at a special blessing when Rav Kanievsky is called up to the Torah for the ultimate honor of reading of the Aseres Hadibros, the Ten Commandments.

Please give generously to Torah Scholars at this favorable time!

CLICK HERE TO ADD YOUR NAME!

Jewish Press Staff

Be A Blessing

Friday, May 6th, 2016

Baruch Hashem, the American Jewish community has been blessed with great wealth, and the tzedakah that has been forthcoming from America boggles the imagination. Consider the myriad of causes, institutions, groups and organizations here, in Israel, and throughout the world that have been built and founded by American Jewry.

This willingness to give is part of our Jewish DNA. Hashem Himself endowed us with it: “Veheyei berachah – you shall be a blessing,” G-d told our father Avraham. The charge of G-d is not “Be blessed” but “Be a blessing.”

There is a fine difference between the two, and given the choice we would all probably opt to be blessed. There are so many yearnings in our hearts, so many hopes, so many fears. We go for a berachah and we have so many problems that we don’t know where to begin: health, shalom bayis, parnassah, shidduchim, children, then good children – and before you know it, we add grandchildren to the list. Bottom line: it’s never over.

We all want to be blessed. Yet Hashem anointed our Patriarch with the immortal words “Be a blessing.” My saintly father, HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, would put it in laymen’s language. Often he would say to me, “Mein lichtig kind, zolst eemer kennen geiben; zolst kein mol nisht darfen beaten – My precious light, you should always be able to give; you should never have to ask.”

Throughout our long, painful saga, we Jews have always been givers, and I believe that has helped us survive the savage onslaught of the nations, the ravages of poverty, and all the other suffering we’ve experienced throughout the millennia.

It’s quite simple. If you are a blessing to others, life takes on a different meaning. Even if your heart aches, you know you have to try to help someone else. Even if your body is fatigued and you don’t have the strength to move, somehow you find the energy to get up because you know that others are dependent on you.

I learned what that means early on in my childhood. As a little girl of five, I played with someone who today would be called a “special needs child.” In Hungary we did not have such categorization. Special needs? To us, that meant we had to reach out to one another, because we all had needs that required help. Yes, even at that age we were imbued with the knowledge that we had to be a blessing to our friends and everyone else.

It was with this armor of “Be a blessing” that we responded to the barbarism of the concentration camps. I shall never forget my father’s instructions: “Try to smile, my precious child. And when adults will see a little girl smiling, they will find courage and hope. Be a blessing.”

When we came to America, my mandate to be a blessing gave me the strength to speak to my secular peers and invite them to our Shabbos table. That is how we learned to give tzedakah, and that is how we lived our lives. To us, tzedakah was not just writing a check; it was also giving with love and kindness. “Be a blessing” was emblazoned in our hearts, in our minds, and in our souls.

And now to the paradox.

American Jews have certainly been a blessing to our brethren throughout the world. So how is it possible that this same community that has given so much, that has helped so many, that has been a blessing for those in need, has also produced unbridled chutzpah, meanness, selfishness and self-centeredness? Where did we fail? What went wrong?

I know we tend to blame the new technological toys that dominate our culture – the iPads, the smart phones, the computers. But there must be something deeper than that. So once again I ask: How can two such diametrically different traits emerge from the same community? How can there be so much generosity and yet so much meanness?

Ask yourself: What do our children see at home? Who are their tzedakah role models? Let’s take a glimpse at what occurs in many of our homes.

Mom is in the kitchen preparing dinner. Eleven-year-old Benny’s cell phone rings. “OK, I’ll e-mail you the info right away,” Mom hears him say.

“Whom are you sending that e-mail to?” asks his mother. “What’s it all about?”

“Michael needs my notes to study for tomorrow’s exam,” responds Benny.

“Now wait a second,” his mother says. “Is this the same Michael who refused to help you when you asked? And now he has the nerve to ask you? Forget it! Don’t be a fool! Just tell him you don’t have it!”

As the years pass, the stakes get higher. Now it’s not just homework – it’s a job, a shidduch, a recommendation, a little help…but the seeds have been planted. Benny will always ask, “Why should I help? It’s tit for tat.”

In vain do Benny’s parents give tzedakah. The image that remains in Benny’s mind has rendered his parents’ checks meaningless, and the legacy of being a blessing is lost on him. He never saw it or experienced it.

Take another example.

“Is that Jonathan kid still in your class?” Benny’s mother asks.

“Yeah,” Benny replies.

Muttering under her breath, his mother reaches for the phone. “I told them a hundred times,” she mumbles, “that kid does not belong in that class. He’s slow, he’s weird. I don’t want my Benny to associate with him.”

“Mr. Adler,” she says, annoyance seeping out of her voice. “How many times have I called you? How many times did I ask you to remove that kid? My Benny is an excellent student, and I have a right to demand that equally excellent students should be in his class! He just doesn’t belong there!”

Exasperated, she hangs up and instructs Benny not to play with “that kid” or invite him over.

Benny’s mother is known in the community for volunteer work. But all her volunteering will get her nowhere because she’s never taught Benny to be a blessing.

What it all amounts to is simple, and if we are to make it as Jews we must engrave this teaching of chesed upon our own hearts and the hearts of our children.

Every day when we recite the Shemoneh Esrei, we commence our prayers with “G-d of Avraham, G-d of Yitzchak, and G-d of Yaakov.” But we conclude the berachah with “Magen Avraham – Shield of Avraham.” Now, what is that shield? Yes, we have a Magen David – the Shield of David – but did anyone ever see the Shield of Avraham? The answer is a resounding yes. That shield of Avraham is the shield of chesed.

How well are we doing? Are we carrying the Shield of Avraham?

I would recommend that our sons and daughters see us, their parents, extend tzedakah with warmth and love. Let them see for themselves how to give with chesed, and let them learn it from us.

Be a blessing. It’s not a concept; it’s our very life.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Thousands of Kohanim Gather at Western Wall to Bless the People of Israel

Monday, April 25th, 2016

On the second morning on the intermediate days of Passover, tens of thousands of descendants of the Biblical Aharon, the High Priest, gathered at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem to bless the Nation of Israel.

Thousands more came to be blessed, and millions around the world viewed the events via the “Kotel Kam” that was set up to allow yearning Jewish worshipers at least virtual access to the site.

As in the days of old, so too in present times, the descendants of the Tribe of Levi gather during each of the Biblical holy days and festivals at the material remnant of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to bless the Jewish People.

The event is called ‘Birkat HaKohanim’ – the Blessing of the Priests – and it takes place several times a year.

A live feed of the events taking place throughout the day at the Western Wall may be viewed by clicking here.

This year more than 3,000 police and other security officers have been deployed in and around the area to ensure the safety of those who came to be blessed, and later on, to pray.

“Security forces and the Police and Border Guard officers around the city, including the Temple Mount (ed. note.: adjacent to the Western Wall) are there to manage with professionalism and sensitivity [the protection] that characterizes the uniqueness of the place and the need to serve the public in a fair and equal basis,” explained the police.

“We will continue to guard the status quo on the Temple Mount to benefit all and to act decisively against anyone who tries to disturb the public peace and safety.”

On the second day of Passover — in Israel, the first intermediate day — 12 Jews were ejected from visitation to the Temple Mount grounds after being accused of violating the rules at the site.

One Jewish boy was questioned by police on suspicion of having prayed within the Temple Mount compound, which is forbidden for Jews under the rules of the status quo guidelines agreed upon by Israel with the Jordanian Islamic Waqf after Israel won the 1967 Six Day War and restored the site to the rest of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount — upon which both ancient Jewish Holy Temples were built — is the holiest site in Judaism. It is also the third holiest site in Islam. Several hundred years ago, Muslims build two mosques there to mark the sacred events in their tradition that took place on the site.

Hana Levi Julian

Unexpected Downpour Swells Lake Kinneret, Creates Havoc in Israel

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

The sun peeked out just long enough Thursday afternoon for Israelis to see the flooding caused by the “sound and light show” they endured over Wednesday night.

Cracks of thunder and long streaks of lightning interspersed with the downpour that sent sheets of rain down through the skies over Israel, drenching the entire country.

Downpours at this time of year are unusual but not unheard of, meteorologist said. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the skies in southern Israel were once again filled with leaden clouds that appeared once more to be pregnant with rain. It was not clear whether in fact more precipitation was on the way; the forecast calls for the possibility for rain, continuing even into as Friday morning.

Rain is considered a blessing in this part of the world no matter when it arrives. There has been a 2.5-centimeter (one inch) rise in the water level of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) as a result of the record-breaking downpour.

But some may have seen it as a mixed blessing: Fifteen members of the Bnei Akiva youth group were trapped in a southern Israeli parking lot due to the flooding. They were rescued by special teams and evacuated from the scene by helicopter. IDF vehicles prepared to enter the area to help evacuate remaining hikers who had been touring in the area.

Bezeq phone lines were still down around the Dead Sea area at midday and service was sporadic at best.

Cell phone companies were scrambling to restore service in the central region. In the Jerusalem area, Cellcom customers reported all kinds of difficulties in placing their calls and in sending text messages Thursday afternoon.

The company had not formulated a response to the complaints by mid-afternoon.

Further south, near Eilat, Route 90 was still closed to traffic by late afternoon due to flash flooding that swamped the road after a night of thunder and lightning that swept Israel from north to south. Route 31, which had been closed earlier in the day, is now open.

Hana Levi Julian

Preparations Completed for Priestly Blessing from Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Rabbis have been busy preparing the traditional Birkat Kohanim, the Blessing of the Priests, set for Thursday.

One of the most moving events in the entire holiday, Jews and Gentiles alike flock to the Western Wall from around the world to be present for the blessing.

The benediction is given solely by Jewish males who are descended from kohanim – those who are in the patriarchal line from members of the priestly class dating all the way back to the time of the ancient Holy Temples. Those who recite the blessing cover themselves (and any children they may have with them) with their prayer shawls, spreading out the shawl in such a way so that they are unseen by others as they recite the benediction.

The blessing at the Western Wall is recited during the morning service by thousands of Kohanim during Chol Hamoed, the intermediate days of the festival of Passover. It is also recited during the intermediate days of the festival of Sukkot.

Hundreds of thousands of Jews come to visit and pray at the Western Wall in the Old City in Jerusalem during this holiday, and many arrive only for the purpose of being present to receive this special blessing.

Hana Levi Julian

Humility…

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Humility is realizing that you have to ask for help and worse, you have to accept it.

Humility is having people ask for your Hebrew name and knowing you should give it.

In Judaism, while we are alive, our name is a combination of our name and that of one of our parents. When a man is called to the Torah, he is called by his name and that of his father. When he stands before God and asks God to bless those he loves, again, they are blessed in the name of their father. And when a person dies, they are forever remembered by their name followed by their father’s name.

In life, however, our mother’s name is associated with us more than our father’s name. When someone is sick and you say a prayer for their well-being, you use their name and their mother’s name. When we pray for Israel’s missing soldiers, again, we use their names followed by their mother’s name.

There are many reasons for this but I wanted to write about the feeling more than the reason. I have been very blessed to be relatively healthy. I can’t think of a time when I ever asked for prayers or had people ask me for my Hebrew name so they could pray for me. And that in itself is a blessing.

Now, in the days and hours before my operation, many of my friends, even strangers that I meet, are asking me for my name and when the operation will be. It is so strange, so humbling to be on this end of the prayers.

My mother’s Hebrew name is Sarah, though she uses her English name. Apparently, I was not given a Hebrew name at birth. Though my grandfather told me I had one, my parents said that I didn’t and so before I married, I consulted a Rabbi, who told me to choose a name and then, he named me before the congregation. He was called to the Torah and gave me a blessing, which included the name that I would be called. I choose Penina because it was nearest to the name of the woman from whom my English name was chosen. Penina is the name that appears on my Ketubah, my wedding certificate. Penina is the name that would be used to bless my children with health and safety.

So, my Hebrew name is Penina bat Sarah. Penina, the daughter of Sarah.

The operation is tomorrow…using two kinds of anesthesia – general and regional. What the doctors will do is kind of cool…especially if it wasn’t me they were operating on!

What they will do, apparently, is insert pins to “pin” the torn tendon to the bone. I should be better informed, but I’m trusting the doctor. In the next six months, the tendon/bone will reattach itself over the pins in a natural healing process. They can’t do this now because they were torn from each other and the tear is too large to fix itself. (More below.)

My first thought when I heard this was of security. I asked if I would be ringing all the metal detectors every time I walked into buildings. Kind of funny that this was my first concern and I hated the idea of this happening. It’s silly the things we focus on, but somehow the idea of the metal detectors going off each time I walked through them was just more than I was willing to face. No, the doctor explained. The pins are not metal and will disintegrate in about 6 months and therefore won’t even have to be removed.

The upside to this whole thing is they expect a 100% recovery. The downside is that it will likely take months to get there. I’ll probably go radio-silent for 2 weeks…maybe less, knowing me…but then again, not knowing the operation results…it could even be longer. I do know that I’m not supposed to move the arm at all for the fist 2 weeks.

So – I’ll wish you all health and safety and happiness in the weeks to come. I’ll ask you to remember to bless our soldiers and our country and if you spare a kind thought or prayer for Penina bat Sarah, I’ll thank you for that as well.

Paula Stern

Trading In Maryland for the Mediterranean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

When Sergeant Brandon Berry made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), he did not come looking for the easy life. If he wanted that, he would not have left his hometown of Potomac, Maryland to serve in the army of a foreign country half a world away from his family.

Sgt. Berry also was not looking for an easy job in the IDF – he wanted to serve wherever he was most needed. He wanted to take his talent and drive with him to contribute one hundred percent.

Sgt. Berry passed all the tests to serve in the prestigious Paratroopers Brigade. Instead the American immigrant took to the sea as a member of the Israel Navy’s Dvora-class patrol boat squadron.

It is not everyday that a young man from Potomac, Maryland travels for tens of thousands of miles to join the Israel Navy. “It was clear to me that I was destined to serve in the Navy,” he said. Sgt. Berry, stationed on a base overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is able to indulge his love for wide-open spaces every day of his service.

Aside from his thick American accent, Sgt. Berry is indistinguishable from the other soldiers at his base – completely at home on a boat with a tan to match. He credits the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers for helping him through the entire enlistment process.

“The work the association does is a blessing,” he says. AWIS helps soldiers in a number of ways, which included providing assistance to lone soldiers, running soldier homes and recreation centers, and providing support for bereaved families.

Sgt. Berry says that even though he grew up with a strong Jewish identity and attended a Jewish day school, he always felt like something was missing. Now, as a soldier for Israel, it seems he has truly come home.

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